Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Title: Masque of the Red Death
Author: Bethany Griffin
Series: Masque of the Red Death #1
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
ISBN13: 9780062107794
Format: Hardcover, 319 pages
Genre: YA, romance, dystopia, steampunk, post-apocalyptic
Source: blog tour
Desire is contagious

Everything is in ruins.

A devastating plague has decimated the population, and those who are left live in fear of catching it as the city crumbles around them.

So what does Araby Worth have to live for?

Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.

But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.

And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
I like dark, angry, screwed-up stories. I really do. Looking at the cover, I was a bit worried that it might be like some other historical fiction books that have things such as petty cat-fights, dramatic "It's not you, it's me" breakup scenes, scandalous affairs and the such at its centre instead of the badass stuff. I was definitely not disappointed. The characters definitely didn't freak out if their BFF's shoes don't match their hats or whatever; they were quite down to earth, actually.

I love Edgar Allen Poe's works, but haven't read The Masque of the Red Death yet, so I can't make a comment on the connections between the works of the two authors, although Bethany Griffin did a fantastic job with creating a despairing atmosphere of Poe's world. From the beginning to the end, it was all very depressing in a good way. Araby finds nothing to live for and do pretty much nothing except for clubbing with her one and only friend, April. So far so good.

To be honest, I genuinely can't put a time era onto this. The plague part of the book may easily be part of the time when the Black Death ravaged Europe, but it could at the same time be something like the flapper era, or the Prohibition. Or it could simply not be on our time, and follow something else entirely. Just my thought.

Araby is not a kickass heroine. At first I thought of her as quite weak, without a point in life. She made decisions I couldn't stand, or just did nothing at all. I don't hold it against her. What made me like her wasn't her epic hand-to-hand combat skills, or her charismatic leading of rebelling civilians, but instead her pure, complete sadness and loss. She has a reason for not having anything to live for. A really big reason she just can't forgive herself for, and what she because of that, although quite unhealthy, was a bit noble in a terrible way. She was trying to make amends. I love the pwnage heroines, but Araby has a special spot in my heart.

I have a serious love-hate relationship with love triangles. This one is not an exception. Usually, I'd be like, "I like both of them, but I like this one better," or even "I HATE, HATE, HATE [insert name]! Why did he/she choose him/her?" but I'm completely neutral with both Will and Elliott with this book. I don't know whether to jump into the book and hug them or threaten to strangle them. Nearly all love triangles I can think of right now have two completely different sides: the perfect, good guy, and the one who's so bad, he's good. I was a genuine Will fan at first, and thought Elliott was a thoughtless jerk who uses Araby for her connections, but Elliott turned out to actually care, even though his first priority is his rebellion, much like Will who'd put his little siblings above everything else. (By the way, Henry and Elise are ADORABLE KIDS. Why aren't my little sisters more like them?)

Next is April, BFF to Araby. My first impression of her was simple: airhead. But think about it. She was loyal. She wasn't freaked out by the social recluse in the form of Araby Worth. And as the story went on, I definitely didn't think of her as an airhead.

The plot was amazing, and although it didn't have a ton of action scenes, it was very beautifully written, from Araby's memories to the description of the dead/dying in the beaten-down streets. Books are sometimes described as "fast and driving" or "enchanting" or something like that. My idea of it'd be "stepping on eggshells," in a very good way. One false move and anything may fall apart. I'd definitely recommend Masque of the Red Death to just about anyone.
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